INTERVIEW WITH THE POET ERIN DORNEY by TYLER BARTON

One time, years ago, the poet Erin Dorney and I walked through the Baltimore IKEA showroom and wrote a poem inside each ridiculous space.

Every time the poet Erin Dorney and I go to an IKEA, our energy skyrockets. It’s something about the affordability. About the lighting. Maybe it’s the language. The meatballs. Some of my verrrry best tweets have come from letting IKEA wash totally over me. As Erin said in our interview, “The first time I was in an IKEA, I was blown away…I had never heard of it before…I didn’t know it was a thing…I was overwhelmed…everything I wanted to buy could fit into my two-door Honda Civic.”

We were inside an IKEA showroom in Bloomington, Minnesota last weekend when I asked her some questions.

int-1

 

Erin, picking up a white tea-kettle:

I will buy a vessel today. 90% sure.

int-2


Erin, after a woman behind us says, This is more me than my living room is me

One of the weird things about being in IKEA is that I’ve shopped there with different partners who I have lived with over the years. So when I come here, I’ll see things I used to own. And it makes me think about that person, that time in my life, like why did I even like that magazine holder?

 

int-3

 

Me, pulling a Swedish book out of a chic, orange bookcase:

Make a found poem out of this.

 

Erin’s poem, sourced from page 51. of Klaus Rifbjerg’s Bilden:

Hon hann
virvel
satt som de
nästan I
inte se att
armarna
moster
lite för sig
bestämma
hade sagt
punkt och slut
och ut på
bra bild
skuggorna
sig I helfigur

 

Erin’s poem translated:

she could
vortex
sat as
In almost
not see that
arms
aunt
some of the
determine
had said
point and end
and on
good picture
shadows
In the full-length

 

int-4


Me, by the window overlooking the parking lot and Mall of America:

Can you explain how the poem “Test” was written?

 

Erin:

I searched for the different phrases on twitter. Like “the boy questioned” and then from all the tweets that came back, I wrote down the ones that stuck out to me. Anything that was interesting. There were so many ways that each phrase was taken. So, I just did a bunch of different phrases like that. Then I went back through and deleted until the ones that were left worked together.

Then I had an idea to make it a multiple choice test. I thought that was an interesting form. Basically, I got the content and then put it into a form.

It was fun to play with.

 

Me:

What is ‘interesting’?

 

Erin:

Language used in a surprising way. Like, a combination of words that I wouldn’t think to put together. But as soon as I see it, I’m like, “Yeah, that’s exactly it.”

 

Me:

Is it a feeling?

 

Erin:

It’s more like a visual. Especially if it’s on a page, like with my erasure poetry. A word or a combination of words will just pop out of the page. My eyes are just drawn to them.int-5

 

Me, holding the above FEJKA:

Give this thing a name.

 

Erin:

SPRIGSTEN. It’s like the Swedish Bruce Springsteen.

int-6


Me, behind a stack of Christmas presents addressed to “Dylan” and “Lydia
:

Avian Quarantine is one of my favorite poems of yours. I remember when you wrote it.

 

Erin, also there with me behind the presents:

You were there.

 

Me:

And I remember workshopping it with our friends at the big dinner table at our old house in Lancaster.

 

Erin:

We didn’t live there then.

 

Me:

Okay well…

 

Erin:

I think it’s almost like three years old.

 

Me:

Well I remember you always saying it was your favorite poem too.

 

Erin:

Yeah, for a long time it was.

 

Me:

Why do you think it was rejected so many times?

 

Erin:

I don’t know. It wasn’t resonating with anyone. Maybe it’s because I know the picture that inspired it but other people don’t?

 

Me:

Say more.

 

Erin:

Avian Quarantine is an ekphrastic poem in response to a photo in the book called “An American Index of the Hidden and Unfamiliar,” by Terrance Simon. There’s these birds in glass boxes, a quarantine before they can enter United States. Any bird coming in to the country has to be quarantined for thirty days or something. The poem was a response to that image.

I don’t know. I don’t know why it was reject so much. I remember sneaking it into batches of other poems that were nothing like it. And some would get taken but never that one.

 

Me:

I didn’t even remember that it was ekphrastic. I do remember you saying, “No one likes this poem.”

 

Erin:

Yeah

 

Me:

Except us.

 

Erin, as Nickleback’s “Far Away” plays through the store:

I don’t know what to say. It resonated with someone at Reality Beach. As an editor, I know that some poems hit you and some don’t. Maybe it just wasn’t catching people the way it caught me, the way it caught Reality Beach.

int-7

 

Me:

Why did you submit poems to Reality Beach?

 

Erin:

I was blown away by the first issue. I never read online lit mags cover to cover. Especially in one day. But I did with the first issue.

Their aesthetic is like what a person on TV in the 80s would be warning everyone what the future will be like.

int-8

 

Me:

What risks have you been taking in your poetry lately?

 

Erin, as both a man with one leg and a woman with one arm shop behind her:          

I’ve been working on projects lately. I’m almost done with the October project, which was to create a found poem every day from Stephen King’s Pet Sematary. I had never read the book or seen the movie. That was a challenge because the vocab he uses is so strange and dark. That’s been fun. The book is not quality writing at all. I would like to think Stephen King agrees with me. Because he never wanted it published anyway.

int-9

 

Me, by the baby beds:

Tell me about a time you couldn’t write poetry

 

Erin:

*is silent for awhile*

 

Me, whispering:

 Just let the question wash over you.

 

Erin:

Right now.

int-10

 

Tyler Barton and Erin Dorney edit Fear No Lit, a web and IRL literary organization.

For more information about Tyler, visit him here.

To learn more about Erin, visit her here.

To read Erin’s amazing poems in Reality Beach Issue Two, click here.

 

I’m Definitely Chaotic Neutral: An Interview with EVIL MTN

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A good majority of your book titles focus on your persona. Do you find this to be a central motif and structure to how you approach your art? Any plans on expanding with this notion in other forms?

When I first started writing under a pseudonym, I wanted to play around with the idea of myself as a character/protagonist. I first started writing under the name Eleanor Hazard/lnr hzrd, and I had a very specific vision for what I wanted those works to feel like and how I described this character of Eleanor Hazard, who was partially me but also partially a fictional creation. It was a very deliberate, “curated” persona, composed only of select parts of myself that I allowed others to see. At some points it was more of a fictional character than anything else. At one point I even “killed off” Eleanor Hazard and came back as The Ghost Of Eleanor Hazard, but that was mostly just an excuse to delete my first Tumblr blog, which actually seems pretty ridiculous now haha. Eleanor Hazard was definitely more of a persona than EVIL MTN in that regard. I started using EVIL MTN partially because I began to feel too restricted by the persona I’d created in Eleanor Hazard, and partially because I eventually wanted a pen name that was completely 100% mine (Eleanor Hazard is an actual person’s name that I saw displayed at an art gallery and thought to myself “that’s a really good pen name”). EVIL MTN isn’t really a persona, it’s just me trying to be myself under a weird name. After Eleanor Hazard I felt a desire to be more “honest” in my work, to make the person that I am more apparent in whatever I write. So I’m doing that now, but also still attempting to explore myself as though I were a character. The only real persona part of it is embracing the surreality/absurdity of simultaneously being a person and also a (self-proclaimed evil) mountain that narrates stories about their life and the lives of the people around them. I’ve considered writing stories about EVIL MTN from a third person perspective a few different times but I decided against it. In my recent work I’ve been trying to utilize the blunt narration I have in my poetry and utilize it to narrate stories instead. My ultimate goal right now is to have someone read my prose and feel like they are sitting down with me and I am telling them a story, in my own voice, in my own inflections, with my own tendencies to ramble on about minor unrelated things and constantly contradict myself for no reason. Although with much less unnecessary swearing. So I guess ultimately I’ve just been trying to capture the “persona” of my own self and define what that really is. God, that sounds so pretentious now that I’ve typed it. I’m so sorry. I’m a monster. Don’t look at me.

All of the collections you have written are available to download for free online. Considering this, what is your opinion of how literature is handled in current markets? Is your method of distribution a reflection of this? If you were to have any collections in print, is there a service you would prefer to utilize over others?

I don’t have any problems with more traditional methods of publishing, it’s just something I generally try and steer clear of for my work. I’m not a very business-minded writer. Quite horribly the opposite, actually. I’ve never felt like a “serious” writer. Writing is mostly just a hobby to me. A hobby that I commit a sometimes-obsessive and disturbing amount of time to, but a hobby nonetheless. I post most of my stuff on the Internet for free mainly because I want as many people as possible to be able to read it if they want to. I wholeheartedly support paying artists properly for their work and I definitely don’t begrudge other artists who pursue that end, it’s just not something I need for myself. Would it be nice to make money? Sure. Would it be nice to be able to support myself strictly thru writing and art? No. It would be frickin’ amazing. But I feel that if I were to pursue writing with that goal in mind, it would ruin evrything I love about doing it. I enjoy the simplicity of creating something and just sharing it. Not having to worry if it’s selling or how I should market it or which publications are (or aren’t) accepting such-and-such kinds of pieces. I like the accessibility of the Internet, that I can click a few buttons and immediately make my writing available all over the world. And sure I could charge for my ebooks, but I don’t want to. I don’t spend any money to make them, and besides I would rather someone be able to read it. I’m constantly broke and I know what it’s like to be too broke to get that book you want and I want people to be able to read my stuff even if they’re broke. Not that there’s really a whole lot of people clamoring to read it necessarily, but I just want the option to be there. I’ve had some people tell me here and there that my writing has helped them get thru difficult times in their lives or helped them feel better about something that was bothering them. To me, that makes evrything that I do worth it, and I prefer being able to do that small service for as many people as possible over having money. I’ve gotten into using Gumroad recently because it allows you to set a pay-what-you-want price so that people can donate if they feel so inclined, which I really do appreciate immensely, but they can also download for free if they can’t/just plain don’t want to. All that said, I do hope to have at least one collection of mine published in a physical copy at some point. An ideal situation would be to post the book free/pay-what-you-want online and then charge for the physical copy for whoever prefers to have something they can hold in their hands, since actual books take more money and effort to print. But I wouldn’t want to negatively affect the sales of whatever press puts it out by just posting it for free, so that is one case in which I wouldn’t post it online for free unless it eventually goes out of print, or unless I have the press’s permission to do so. P.S. – I hope no one will try and use my reasoning as excuses to not pay writers for their stuff. Pay writers whenever you can!! Most of them are not like me!! But you can still pay me too if you want!! I really appreciate it a lot!!

What is the origin of your pen name? Do you think it is important for artists to share their work under a name of their own creation? Does the internet influence this at all?

EVIL MTN wasn’t meant to be a pen name originally. I was still writing as Eleanor Hazard at the time, and I was really just trying to come up with a new Twitter name that didn’t sound awful. I had just finished touring with a band I was in at the time, and we traveled out west thru Colorado and Utah. I’m a Midwest kid, so I’d never seen mountains like that before and I immediately fell in love with them. I was still buzzing on that love after I got back, so I knew that whatever the name was, it had to have mountains in it. I played around with a few things before finally settling on EVIL MTN, but I for the life of me cannot remember why I ended up choosing that. A lot of people have asked and I have literally no idea. Knowing me, it’s probably just because I thought it sounded cool. I’m not actually evil. At least I don’t think so. I’ve always kind of wanted to be a supervillain, but I’m definitely chaotic neutral. CHAOTIC NEUTRAL MTN doesn’t sound as snazzy though. I don’t necessarily think all artists need to write under a pen name, it’s just something I do because it feels better. I’ve been disassociating from my birth name more and more as I get older, and I think I felt the first hints of it the first few times I got pieces published in lit journals, which was under my real name. I remember looking at them and feeling dismayed at how little seeing my name in those publications mattered to me. No sense of accomplishment or anything. I felt completely detached from it, as though it was someone else. I started using pen names not too long after that. EVIL MTN feels more like “me,” more representative of what I’m about, but it’s also just very freeing. It does remind me of the first time I signed into AIM and made my first ever screen name (KayDogg188 #nvr4get). That feeling like anything is possible now that you have this meaningless name/object/phrase to represent you on the Internet. Even more so now that I can hide behind the cute little EVIL MTN logo/mascot that I made for it. It’s refreshing. Like when you cut yr hair and try to “reinvent” yrself. Plus considering how much I’m on Twitter now, I just find it fitting that EVIL MTN was literally born on Twitter.

When did your interest in electronic style music begin? Who are some people, whether they be involved in poetry, music, or other habits, that have influenced you over the years?

I didn’t really start actively listening to electronic music until a few years ago, but I’ve always enjoyed chiptune/8-bit music. We didn’t have video games at home until I was older so I haven’t played a lot of old classic games, but I loved going to relatives’ or friends’ houses and mooching off their systems, playing Sonic or NBA Jam or Comix Zone or that motorcycle racing game where you beat people with chains (childhood!). And for most of my life the only electronic music I’ve really listened to frequently was Daft Punk and Radiohead. But then a friend of mine got me into ambient music like Blithe Field and Ricky Eat Acid, and that in turn led me to Shlohmo and Aphex Twin and Oneohtrix Point Never and a bunch of other electronic stuff I didn’t normally listen to. And shortly after moving to Austin I got an iPad and started fiddling with Garage Band and making little video game songs. I have a lot of influences that I could ramble about endlessly but my main musical influences are the bands Radiohead (I know, I know) and Grizzly Bear for making the infinite melancholy I’ve felt for the majority of my life into a tangible thing when I was in high school, and helping me realize that I can do that as well, and as a form of self-care to boot. To the video game Kentucky Route Zero and the podcast Welcome To Night Vale (which are both amazing, by the way, and I highly recommend to anyone), for helping me realize that you don’t need a reason to be weird, you can just be weird and it’s ok. Usually. Sometimes. Kind of. I read Blake Butler’s novella Ever in my first writing workshop in college and it literally changed my life and showed me exactly how little I knew of what was possible with writing. But most of all I owe a lot to Bob Schofield and Katherine Osborne. They are two of the first poets I followed on Tumblr after I discovered that I didn’t hate poetry after all and decided to give it a try, and they have always been a gigantic inspiration to me and helped me keep going despite repeated late-night sessions spent chanting “man I suck” into my pillow.

You have worked an independent bookstore in Austin for almost a year now. What is the literary climate like there? How did you get involved in the job? Has working there changed your perspective to how you consume artistic of expression in general?

The bookstore I work at is called BookPeople, and it’s the first job I’ve ever had where I’m working in an environment that I’m actually passionate about. It’s the largest indie bookstore in Texas and focuses a lot on bestsellers and classics, but doesn’t bring in many publications from smaller indie presses except for Write Bloody, which is a local press that publishes a lot of really cool writers. I’ve always wanted to work in a bookstore so I applied there and they eventually called me in to work as a holiday hire, and I stayed on after. To be honest I haven’t been very much involved in the lit scene here outside of work because I’m a grumpy little troll that likes to hide under bridges, but before I worked there I was almost exclusively going to another indie bookstore called Malvern Books, which is smaller but has an amazing selection of publications by indie/lesser-known presses, which has helped me discover a lot of really cool poets/writers, and they also hold regular events, which is usually how I find out about readings. But I totally engrossed myself in small press books for a long time. Getting hired at BookPeople was the first time in a while I’d actually poked my head above the water and looked at what was going on in the surface world. It definitely changed my reading habits a bit, encouraging me to make an attempt to balance reading small press stuff with reading more novels and more mainstream releases so I can do my job better. And we regularly hold author events so I get a lot of chances to listen in on Q-and-A sessions and hear different authors describe their methods or inspirations or what have you, which is interesting.

Speaking of artistic means of expressing oneself, where do you see the division between twitter and “traditional” formats like novels and other bulky manuscripts? Do your two outputs overlap at all?

The only division I really see is that one format is taken much less seriously than the other, which I don’t think is fair. Twitter can be a lot of different things to a lot of different people, and sometimes it’s a source for news articles and thinkpieces about spoons or whatever, and sometimes it’s an outlet for all the weird random emotions you feel when some asshole cuts you off on the way to 7-11 but also they’re kind of really hot, and sometimes it’s a medium thru which you can craft really short pieces of art, but for some reason people don’t like when you mix them together. I could hypothetically publish a collection of poems about things like that time I tripped in public in front of my crush and evryone I’ve ever looked up to and it would be fine, but if I mentioned that those poems were all tweets, some people would get all weird about it because apparently that doesn’t count or something. I think it’s just mixed in with a popular idea of “literature”, and how legitimate publications have to be formal and serious, but if spending so much time on that stupid wonderful site has taught me anything, it’s that you don’t have to be formal and serious to be thought-provoking or to elicit an emotional response or to discuss serious real-world issues. Not saying that all tweets are art (well, mine are, obviously) but Twitter can still be a legitimate means to convey art. Almost all of the dialogue in Rat City Vol. I was a tweet of mine at some point, or was influenced by one. And honestly, a lot of the things the characters say in that book are just silly and dumb. And I appreciate that about it. I am often silly and dumb, and I’d like that to be reflected in my work without having to worry about whether I’ll be taken seriously as an artist or not. It’s something of a point that I’m attempting to make to myself after taking myself seriously for so long. You can be silly and dumb and still make cool art on the Internet. I am going to keep sneaking tweets into my writing forever.

Any upcoming plans or future releases?

I’ve finished Rat City Vol. II and am going to attempt to get it physically published, and I’m working on a few different manuscripts right now, one of which I’ll probably hold onto to publish with some friends of mine and one of which I am definitely going to release on the Internet.

How can we support you?

My most recent stuff, including Rat City Vol. I, which is a collection of surreal short stories/flash fiction, and also an unfinished horror story can be found here for pay-what-you-want/free! My most recent poetry can be found here for completely free! And if you wanna listen to any of the aforementioned music that I’ve been making, it’s here! For free! Or you can just ignore all that stuff and follow me on Twitter, and that would be fine too. @evilmtn

Interview conducted by Jordan Hoxsie.

The Honesty You Have To Entertain: An Interview with Amanda Dissinger

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How does the creation of your Ghost City Press mini-chapbook I’m Fine, I’m Fine, I Think I’m Fine compare to making your debut poetry book This Is How I Will Tell You I Love You?

My first book was really choosing poems from six years of writing with a similar theme- mostly love and relationship poems and poems from when I was ages 18-23 mostly. My new mini-chapbook had a lot of newer poems which I think showed a different perspective while also keeping the same kind of voice that I’ve created in my poetry- very stream of consciousness, raw, emotional, etc. The mini-chapbook really came up randomly- I saw the amazing work that Kevin at Ghost City was doing and a lot of my favorite poets were signed on to release a mini book and I really wanted to a part of it so I sat down and went through a lot of recent unreleased poems and put together 8 or 9 that I thought worked really well together and told a story.

You previously referred to yourself as the “Taylor Swift of poetry.” Do you feel that pop culture plays a major role in your writing process? What celebrities do you have a shred of respect for? Do you feel that at least touching upon the lives of the famous is an imperative in art, let alone poetics?

I don’t sit down or write and think about pop culture but I find that I get a lot of ideas of lines or themes of poems while I’ll walking around listening to music or I’m on twitter looking at celebrity news or something like that. For example, my poem “Tabloid Depression” was based on that US Weekly column that’s been running for years about 25 Things You Don’t Know about some random celebrity that usually turn out to be incredibly obvious and not worth reading at all.

I can’t really think of any celebrities that I’m obsessed with but I do love pop music and so I’m a big fan of Carly Rae Jepsen, Gwen Stefani, Beyoncé of course, and I have a large amount of respect for what I consider to be “poetry” celebrities like Sarah Kay, Anis Mojgani, Derrick Brown, all of the Write Bloody poets, Amber Tamblyn, etc. Amber Tamblyn’s last book of poetry I think did a really good job of combining the ideas of art and poetry but usually I don’t think about the idea of celebrity when writing poetry or reading in general.

Your work not only chronicles the female experience, but also stands as a monument of unbridled and incredible sincerity. Is this second aspect a major component of your philosophy? What else would you urge people to keep in mind when considering life?

I would say that I find it hard to not be incredibly genuine in all of my interactions and especially my writing. I write most of the time to get things and situations and feelings about people or events out of me and to make myself feel more stable and okay and in this, I usually present things in the most true to myself way possible. As a person too I find it pretty hard to be fake or to try to be anything I’m not. I don’t think I’m an expert on life (at all/under any circumstances), but I always try to be kind and consider other people’s feelings, probably too much.

In the spirit of your writing, rather than a general list of literary influences, give me a play-by-play of how your interest in pursuing writing as a means of expressing yourself grew, and how your influences came into the grand scheme of things.

I first started writing and reading poetry when I was 17 years old in my Senior Year HS creative writing class in Hershey, PA (p.s. shout out to Mrs. Reinert). It wasn’t a natural thing at all, I just started reading Elizabeth Bishop and Sylvia Plath and learning about the different forms that poems can take and being required to experiment with all of them and really enjoying free verse poems and forms. I didn’t really start writing frequently and using it to express myself until I was in college in New York City. I once again took a creative writing class in my sophomore year and had to write poems and short stories and scenes and soon after the class ending I found myself continuing to scribble down little phrases or paragraphs on anything I could find. Honestly, I didn’t really ever make a decision at any point to be a poet, I just started writing and couldn’t stop.

How did you get involved in Terrorbird Media? Elaborate a little about what the organization does and its social media presence.

Terrorbird’s a great music marketing company that I’ve worked with for three + years. I started interning my last semester in college after working in music in some capacity throughout my first three college years and I was lucky enough to be offered a job right before I graduated. I’ve been a full time publicist at the Brooklyn/LA based company for two years- we work with independent labels and musicians on gaining publicity, radio promotion and film/TV placements for their music, and it’s a really close knit family atmosphere. No matter what, we really only work with artists and music we love and believe in and we try to convey those ideas across the board from our interactions with clients to our social media presence.

(p.s. CHECK US OUT ON INSTAGRAM! WE COOL!)

Tell me more about your new collection releasing early next year. Are there any overlapping themes between this effort and your other two earlier publications? Due to the tonal shift between book titles you have evoked earlier, is there going to be a natural progression through an overarching concept of achieving and studying the effects of intimacy?

I really thing the mini chapbook I released this summer was kind of the middle between two extremes. My first collection I considered more youthful and more centered on love and how different people and relationships changed me. The new collection is more about overarching themes and events in my life, which I’m excited about. There are definitely poems about relationships because I can’t not write about that, but there’s also poems about family, friends, loneliness, health problems, fear, etc. I think it really showed me that I don’t have to limit myself to any one concept or idea or even style of writing. The new collection definitely discusses more about intimacy but also about the honesty that you have to entertain when dealing with yourself and how you think about yourself in relation to the world.

Any other upcoming projects, perhaps an album?

Haha, an album would be awesome. I’m actually working on a concert special right now though!*

How can we offer support to you as an artist and as a person?

Just keep reading if you like what I write! That will always mean the world to me.

*jk jk

Interview conducted by Jordan Hoxsie.

The Idea of Agency: An Interview with Alexandra Naughton

 

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Elaborate a bit on your new Ghost City Press mini-chap. Is I Wish You Never Emailed Me a part of something arriving in the future?

You know, I wasn’t planning on it being anything more than what it became, but I have been working on little bits recently and I truly believe I Wish You Never Emailed Me was the start of this larger narrative. Ever since I got sober last year I have been trying to focus more on self-care and breaking bad habits and IWYNEM was the catalyst to get me talking and writing about that.

You previously referred to your books as concept albums. What are some concept albums that have left an impression on you over the years?

Beach Boys  Pet Sounds, Bright Eyes  Fevers and Mirrors, No Doubt — Tragic Kingdom, RZA — Bobby Digital in Stereo, Smashing Pumpkins — Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, Lana Del Rey — Ultraviolence.

Do you find there is an explicit difference between composing novels and poetry? What do you think is the most important element when unraveling a narrative onto a page?

I don’t really think there is much of a difference. Maybe in ability to sell/profit on the final product. When I’m putting narrative on the page the most important thing to me is getting it down, laying down the idea, the structure, the bones of the thing. Once those are down I can relax and take time to edit and think more about the details and how things will work. So, just getting it down, documenting the idea, is super essential.

How have The Smashing Pumpkins and Lana Del Rey proven to be influences throughout your life? Who are some other people you connect to, literary or otherwise?

I think LDR and Billy Corgan/Smashing Pumpkins are very dramatic but in a sarcastic way and that’s something I always liked about performance. Like I’m pretending that I’m taking this all very seriously, and maybe in a way I am, but I’m also aware that the whole thing is a big joke. It’s a comedy routine. LDR is totally a performance artist though I don’t think she would ever cop to it and that’s the best part. Billy Corgan’s whole existence is a ridiculous joke.

Aside from the manic pixie dream girl, what other narrative and pop culture tropes do you wish to eradicate, either through your writing or your activism?

I don’t want to eradicate the manic pixie dream girl as much as I’d like to play with the trope and redirect the audience’s expectations. I love cliches, I love tropes, and the best part about them is messing with them and making the audience be like, what. I think hatred of the mpdg character trope is a kind of misogyny and I’m not really down with that because really, what is so wrong with a whimsical character who does bizarre things and enjoys herself and is fun to have at parties? The problem with the trope is the idea of agency, is she existing for herself or is she existing solely for the purpose of moving another character forward? Does she have friends, a life outside of the male protagonist, etc? In American Mary, the narrator is a type of mpdg character, but she is entirely with agency, and the only story she moves along is her own.

I don’t consider myself an activist. I write jokes on the internet.

What started your long-term support and devotion to independent artistry?

I just like doing things and I like seeing other people doing fun things with paper and performance and I don’t think one really needs some sort of establishment to back them up in order to do it. I’m just messing around. Making zines, publishing poetry, putting on shows, this is all fun for me.

What sparked the creation of Be About It Press? How has being a publisher expanded or changed your opinions of literature as a whole, if at all?

I started Be About It Press because I thought it would be fun. Having a zine was something I’d always wanted to do. I like putting things together. I like connecting people. I don’t think my opinion of literature has changed much, but I have realized that I don’t have as much free time as I would like to have to devote to all the projects I want to do.

Tell me about the mixtape you teased about earlier. What are some current ideas you have for it? Any other plans or projects?

I have so many projects and plans but I think I want to keep them under wraps for the most part right now. I’m working on a book about public transit, the larger piece I mentioned previously, and this mixtape that I’m mostly just thinking about right now but I know how I want to do it. Also short films and some other things. I literally just need a week or two with no prior commitments!

Lastly, how can we support you?

You can support me on my patreon page, you can buy American Mary (from me directly, paypal: hegemonster@gmail.com or venmo)

Interview conducted by Jordan Hoxsie.

Poems Seem Impossible: An Interview with Stacey Teague

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Tell me a little bit about the creation of your new mini-chapbook, Not A Casual Solitude.

I didn’t intend for these poems to be in a collection, but I started writing poems which shared that form, and I guess they all have a similar feel. I was inspired to write in that way after reading a book called Sorrow Arrow by Emily Kendal Frey (recommend!). That was my starting off point, but the result is something quite different in both form and content from Sorrow Arrow. Some of the text in that collection is found text from entries in an online Māori dictionary.

Do you consider yourself a naturalist at heart, or something else entirely? Does incorporating natural components outside of oneself, like the behavior of birds and the morning rain, in a poem engender more sincerity? What do we have to lose for doing the opposite?

I don’t know if I consider myself anything in particular, but nature makes me feel calm and good, so I often write about it. It’s cool. I don’t think that writing about nature is necessarily any more sincere than writing about anything else.

What animal or other element of our world do you most spiritually identify with, if any?

I don’t know about ‘spiritually’, but I feel very akin to my cat, Winnie. She is a real shit but I love her. I’ve always felt in tune with animals, we find things in each other. Generally bodies of water and anywhere with lots of trees are fine by me.

Your poems have an innate flow and calm to them, a slap upon the senses from the earth. What is your typical process when composing one?

One thing I do not do is sit down and say I am going to write a poem and then write one. Does anyone actually do that? Poems seem impossible. There are a lot of different processes, some organic and some more experimental. I take notes most days and will browse through those and combine them or elaborate on them to make a poem. Recently I’ve been trying out more ways to write, because there is only so far you can get in writing organically. I’ve started using methods like reworking found text, using google translate or text manipulators like markov chain or randomisers. These things can kick start creativity, otherwise you spend too long staring at nothing, you need text to fill in that space, any text. It makes me appreciate language more, having to fight your way out of it.

Is there a differing or conflicting philosophy when it comes to poetry in New Zealand than in England or America? Or is such an idea just rubbish?

It is only different in that they are different places. NZ is so much smaller. It is hard to talk about poetry in New Zealand when I haven’t properly lived there for 4 years, and I’ve never really felt a part of the writing scene there. When I lived in Auckland it was really hard to get anything exciting happening there, poetry-wise, but I have friends in Wellington who are doing amazing things. What’s important to me is supporting young writers, which is something that is done well in Australia where I currently live, and in NZ there’s this great journal called Starling.

Poetry everywhere can seem largely academic, and elite somehow, and what I want within poetry is a space where writers can get together in an informal, supportive and fun atmos in which to share their work. This is what I try to do with a reading series that I co-run, Subbed in. Sometimes you have to make space where there is no space.

Who are some writers and artists that you have studied, loved, or both?

Anne Carson, Emily Kendal Frey, Hera Lindsay Bird, Alice Notley, Carrie Lorig, Chelsey Minnis, Claudia Rankine, Zoe Dzunko – my current faves.

Anything in development we should be looking forward to?

Not really, but I’m always writing, I guess slowly working towards my second collection, but I’m not really thinking about that. This year has been an important year for me in poetry, I’m just reading and reading and I feel open.

Where can we buy your material, and how can we otherwise support you?

http://thescrambler.com/books-takahe.html
https://gumroad.com/l/casualsolitude
http://subbedin.bigcartel.com/
🙂

Interview conducted by Jordan Hoxsie.

If It Creeps A Few Out, So What: An Interview with Mary Boo Anderson

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I know you have already briefly mentioned this to me but, as a start, enlighten me fully on the origin of your name and how it relates to your stage presence.

Well, my birth given name is Mary Angelina, but I’ve been going by Mary Boo for a while now. A friend of mine freshman year of college mentioned how I’m kind but creepy like Boo Radley from To Kill A Mockingbird and the nickname Boo stuck.

It’s a fitting name especially in terms of my art practice because often in my work I overstep social boundaries that could potentially creep people out but I think people mostly understand that it’s from a place of genuine desire to shed light on these social boundaries and not intended to just make people uncomfortable. But whatever, if it creeps a few out, so what. I keep that quote that’s like: “good fiction’s job is to comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable” in the back of my head at all times.

What was your first exposure to performance art? Did this at all relate to your current attachment to it? Who are some other artists and people in general that have entranced you through the years?

I first discovered performance art was a thing that exists while in college. Learning about famous artists like Sophie Calle, Andrea Fraser, Andy Kaufman and Adrian Piper helped me realize that you can use every day life as a medium to intervene and critique and just have fun.

Prior to knowing I could do a weird thing and call it ‘performance art,’ I had always found ways to perform. As a child, my mom would take me with when she went shopping. I would be so bored in Macy’s I would knock mannequins from pedestals so I could get on the pedestal and start singing songs and telling stories to all of the other small children who would watch.

Lately, I’ve been going to a mix of comedy shows, poetry events, and performance art things. I love seeing how all of the creators in their respective fields use language and their body to move an audience. I’m interested in pulling parts from all three to make my own things. A comic, poet, and performance artist I’m obsessed with: Aparna Nancherla, Claudia Rankine, and Miranda July.

You studied Studio Art and got a BFA at NYU. Tell me a bit about that overall experience and how it connected with your relationship with artistic forms of expression, if at all.

I’m thankful for the experience in so many ways. One of the first pieces I learned about in school was called ‘Untitled (Perfect Lovers)’ by Felix Gonzalez-Torres and it’s just two clocks ticking next to each other. The delicate, finite nature of human relationships being portrayed in such a simple way really opened up a whole new world for me. The fact that anything can be art even just two clocks you can buy from Kmart is beautiful to me.

Near the end of art school, the work that made me most excited was the work that had a responsibility to the viewer. In art there is so much self-indulgence that I can’t justify. Why would a straight cis white man be making an abstract expressionist piece in 2016 is absolutely beyond me. There’s so much boring stuff out there in the world, I don’t think art should add to the pile of sludge. I think we either have to progress a conversation or step aside.

I have already gone on and on with you about how much I love your tweets. Talk to me a bit about them. Do you think this will continue to be your main form of literature besides your short films, performances, and live shows?

Yes, I LOVE Twitter. I am addicted. I use it as an open sketch book. Whenever I’m writing a poem or constructing a performance or video I read through past tweets and look for themes, sometimes using tweets verbatim. Sometimes I’ll even compose a thought in twitter then copy it into a google doc for later and not post it. It helps me think when I’m forced to edit something down to 140 characters. Otherwise… *gestures wildly to my lengthy interview responses*

What is the ideal art museum?

One that is free and for the people by the people. Focusing on underrepresented voices and media.

How much should we destroy current societal standards?

We should destroy the standards to the point they no longer hurt anyone.

Anything coming up in the near future?

Going to be releasing a series of dog poems soon. Also, Ryann Slauson and I have some collaborative projects in the works.

And to conclude, how can we please support you?

Follow me on twitter at @whoismaryboo hehe <33

Interview conducted by Jordan Hoxsie.

My Mind Has Always Been Dark And Morbid: An Interview with Blake Wallin

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The names you give your collections, Otherwise Jesus, No Sign on the Island, seem to me like haikus wanting to expand. All of them have a developed irony to them and the juxtapositions of each flow into one another, especially when considering the release of your new mini-chap from Ghost City Press, The Lucidity of Giving Up. Is this a trend evolving into a kind of mythos, or a nice coincidence?

It’s a little of both I guess (although I can’t speak to the mythos aspect as much of course). The names of the two chaps have come from conversations I’ve had with my best friend from high school and they’re phrases taken out of context from those convos. I like that the chaps’ poems themselves give the titles their meaning, which I feel like is better than vice versa; makes it feel more organic and natural. The title for my microchap (LoGU) came more from my brain but hopefully it retained that enigmatic/ironic quality you point out so nicely.

Would you say that the concept of faith is a common theme in your work?

Absolutely. I don’t identify as a Christian anymore, but it still haunts me and my writing, in mostly good ways. I think I found my poetic voice in Jan 2015, when I wrote “Secular Penance” and it was picked up by Maudlin House. That poem was about finding more community in a psych ward than at a Christian college I didn’t always fit in at (Wheaton College in IL). Of course, much of the reason I didn’t fit in was because I was so in my own head during that time. My other Maudlin poem from that year, “Muslim Neighbor,” deals explicitly with the intersection between faith and bigotry with regards to a gay Christian/Muslim relationship and their disapproving parents. Essentially with that poem I wanted to have my cake and eat it too: I wanted to show religious bigotry (the Muslim parents), a gay-affirming faith that our generation seems to getting better at every day (including at places like Wheaton with each successive class), and the very human problems and joys of being in a relationship. OJ is where faith shows up the most because I was growing out of it right as I found myself poetically, but it’s in the other 3 collections of mine if you squint really hard. I think my most sacrilegious poem is “Curvature” in LoGU; the most anti-church poem is “Perimeter Church” in No Sign. Expect religion to show up quite a bit in my next chap though, which is more narrative-focused.

I find that, no matter how dark an atmosphere you appear to establish, you manage to slip in a little dash of good humor. Was this something that happened naturally? What is your typical process as a whole?

I typically start out dark. My mind has always been dark and morbid since I was a kid, so it’s a baseline I start out with rather than something I try to achieve. I sprinkle in humor here and there unintentionally mostly to keep myself from going pitch black into all-consuming darkness.

Some of the work I read of yours initially gave me the impression that you write with other voices or characters in mind, which is unique in a rather confessional time of poetics. Do you think this rings true at all?

Yes, but I’ve been trying to mix it up post-OJ. OJ is almost 100% persona and contained so many character poems that it became tiresome, and I eventually moved on to more confessional writing in No Sign, which has about a 50/50 split between confessional and persona. I tried writing a straight confessional poem in July, and it was terrible. It wasn’t bad; it just wasn’t me or my style or anything that resembles my writing conceptually so it felt false. I alternate back and forth between confessional and persona/narrative, and I feel like that will continue unless I have a revelation. The closest I’ve gotten to a revelation was at This Lil Lit Fest a couple weekends ago, where I was in the presence of so many killer poets, most of whom were working within that confessional vein but who all had found their own individual voices within it. This of course made me alternate between despair at the state of my own writing (which I found to be less accessible/relatable because it’s often more conceptually rigorous and just, well, worse) and extreme joy at the prospect of being a part of a literary community. But on the real, despite how hard I am with myself, I do think I have achieved my own style throughout these two years.

Who are some authors you frequently return to for guidance and entertainment?

Favorite poem: “First Communions” by Rimbaud

Favorite poets: Arthur Rimbaud, John Ashbery, Philip Larkin, Sharon Olds, Anne Carson, Louise Gluck, Jericho Brown

Favorite books/collections: Anne Carson’s Autobiography of Red, TS Eliot’s The Waste Land, Derek Walcott’s Omeros, Sharon Olds’ Satan Says, and Tyehimba Jess’ Olio.

Favorite poet friends: Gail Wronsky, Ernest Hilbert, Justin Quinn, Emily O’Neill, Luis Neer, Erin Taylor, Alli Simone Defeo, plus everyone else who was at This Lil Lit Fest

As a graduate of Wheaton College and an English Literature Major, do you feel that your time studying the art form in a classroom setting impacted the way you execute your personal style? Was it an easy decision to undergo those courses? How long would you say you have had an interest in creating poetry and other written forms?

I’m glad you brought this up. Wheaton’s Lit and Philosophy departments are pretty difficult academically, and, although it was sometimes rough going, I think it really prepared me to engage literary questions from a more academic perspective. There’s a trade-off of course, and it means my work is nowhere near as immediate or affecting as some other poets, but it was important for me to see how the pieces fit together academically before I could approach poetry personally. It’s both my greatest strength and my greatest weakness, but it’s helped me develop my own style at least. I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was 9, and my trajectory was: unfinished children’s fantasy novel in elementary/middle school (the concept for which wasn’t half bad actually)  short stories but aspiring to write more serious literary fiction novels eventually, in high school  and, starting sophomore year of college, poems, poems that became not shitty/palatable second semester senior year after “Secular Penance.”

Any upcoming projects or plans?

I have a chap called Michelin I’m just finishing now that’s an expansion of “Michelin Chef Murder” from No Sign. It’s about two French chefs who committed suicide in 2003 and 2016 because of the pressure to perform at a high level due to the Michelin restaurant rating scale that started in France. It’s probably my most ambitious project formally, so I’m really excited about it. In terms of more long-term plans, I hope to attend grad school next year.

And, to conclude, mention a few ways we can offer support.

Buy Otherwise Jesus ($5 until the end of August from Ghost City Press), No Sign on the Island ($10 from Bottlecap Press), and The Lucidity of Giving Up (which is free or pay-what- you-want, with the donations going straight to me, also from Ghost City Press)!

Interview conducted by Jordan Hoxsie

 

The Space We Make: An Interview with Rosalie Gardner

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Your most recent publication, sorbet, is self-described as “a stream of conscious performance poem in 3 parts.” Is performance art and forms like it, such as spoken word poetry, fields you want to continue to pursue primarily?

it is definitely a primary interest of mine. performance in general: scriptwriting, performance poetry, performance art, theatre, even just thinking critically about my daily life outside of art. writing for some kind of stage is definitely the priority for me at the moment. this being said, I want to distance myself from slam poetry for a while. I cut my teeth on it this time last year when I moved to York, and it’s helped me meet some wonderful people and make some great connections, but I don’t know how suited I am to the form or the scene. I often find it pretty restrictive.

When writing a poem, where do you feel the line between retelling conversations end and telling your own narrative begin? Or is everything a personal narrative to begin with?

I don’t think I write any poem purely with the intention of retelling a conversation: there is always a secondary motive, there is always a personal narrative and a point I’m trying to emphasise. is that narcissistic? probably.

What are some of the writers and works that have stuck with you over the years, long after classroom sessions? What do you think is the most important quality when determining the strength of a poem or other work of art?

I am a big fan of Richard Brautigan’s novellas and poetry, and the plays of Caryl Churchill and Sarah Kane. I have also recently been reading Crispin Best and Sara Sutterlin, both of whom I really admire. and honestly, I don’t know what draws me to them. I think they all share a sweet and discordant kind of sadness, and a nonstandard approach to naturalistic depiction. they also share a melancholic edge that is both painfully modern but abstract enough to be universal. I don’t know what makes art good, but I think that’s what makes me like a piece of art.

You and I have both expressed love for the band Death Grips. Do you feel there is something extra transformative about this group due to their widespread popularity? Or is there nothing incredibly singular about what they do?

I love Death Grips. that being said I don’t think there is really one thing in particular that makes them so iconic. I think it might just be that there is little easily attainable material around that sounds anywhere similar to what they’re putting out. you could also say an element of their popularity stems from their antagonistic attitude towards their fan base and their objective memeability. I sound so cynical. I think they’re a really good band, believe me. I got tickets for their show in Manchester.

Do you find there is a disparity when it comes to involvement in independent publishing due to being a young poet? Is there any advice you would give to other aspiring writers?

independent publishing is always tricky, but it is definitely trivialised further when practised by young people. I feel like there is also a lot of unnecessary judgement from older independent poets that stems from elitism and prescriptivism, not to mention archaic and oppressive mentalities. but I love the work people my age are doing and the space they’re making for themselves. if I had to give other young people any advice it would probably be to just own the weird shit that you’re making and to just put it out there, because someone is going to appreciate it.

Where can we buy your material and how can we otherwise support you?

sorbet is still available via the glo worm press webstore for whatever price you would like to pay for it. very soon I will also be uploading a manuscript onto gumroad for people to download for money or not. I have a new poem in the newly released and very lovely second issue of Cherry Styles’ GRUB zine. I am also making a webseries called not me with my friend and collaborator Alex Rushfirth, the first episode of which will be uploaded to youtube in the next two weeks. details about all of these things can be found on my blog jennyholzer4americanapparel.tumblr.com 🙂

Interview conducted by Jordan Hoxsie

Online Culture Has Overthrown Everything: An Interview with Nadia de Vries

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Your book titles evoke a kind of immediate life cycle. Was this a plan from the start? Tell me a bit on the process of how each of these books came to be what they are now.

I had no idea at all. I published First Communion, my first book, as a sort of cry for attention from my bedroom to the outside world. I just wanted other writers to find me.

R.I.P. Nadia de Vries was much more elaborate in terms of preparation. I knew I wanted to write a second book pretty soon after FC came out, and I had just become obsessed with taking selfies. I had also become very ill. I used Instagram to document my illness in an over-the-top kind of way, putting on a different persona for each selfie. I wrote poems to go with the selfies, which ended up becoming R.I.P. Nadia de Vries.

Do you find it important that a greater amount of writers self-publish their own work? Or is it more of a personal choice?

For me it was more of a necessity, because there were not that many venues available to me. I am a Dutch poet living in the Netherlands, a country with a strong literary tradition, but I write in English, and therefore I am an outsider. In America, I am a foreigner. I knew that I had to self-publish my work so that people could find me, and that I could become part of a community. That is why my first book is called First Communion. I am very grateful to have found my community now, and that I can publish poems and meet wonderful people, and travel.

I think self-publication is a beautiful thing because it offers very few constraints to the poet. Self-publication allows you to design and format a book the way you want it to, use the medium and materials of your own choosing, as well as the means of production and distribution. You become very aware of the object that you are making. But it is important to be part of a community, and for that reason I think it can be quite valuable to be published by another person.

You have a stark minimalism, I feel, that sets you apart from quite a few poets. Has the style that appears in your books something that has been with you for a long time? What are some of your influences?

Luna Miguel’s “Museum of Cancers” comes to mind. Darcie Dennigan’s “In The Bakery.” I am a huge fan of Chelsey Minnis, too.

I have always liked short poetry. I have a very short attention span and it brings me comfort to compartmentalize my thoughts into something smaller, kinder.

Tell me about the poetry scene in Amsterdam, and how art is handled in the Netherlands on a broad scale. Is it any different from how you think it is treated in America?

Amsterdam is more casual, homely. New York City is cruel.

What exactly is Sisternhood? Is this a sign of something more massive down the line?

Sisternhood is an anthology that I have been working on for about a year now. The book features poetry by six female European writers and artists, myself included, and focuses specifically on how the Internet has affected our own lives and languages — how we have become infused with American culture, despite not being American at all.

I feel a great dissonance between my nationality and my creative work. I am unable to write poetry in my native tongue, and have never read any Dutch literature. My parents are both Dutch and don’t speak English at all, so none of this makes any sense. Online culture has overthrown everything. I noticed similar sentiments in some poet friends of mine, and I decided to curate an anthology so that I could facilitate these feelings in a communal and productive manner. Sisternhood’s contributors consist of five women that I admire tremendously, and I am very happy to share that the anthology will be released in New York, in November of this year.

I recently read that you go on record to say that the best thing for writers is not to be famous, but to be found, and that was incredibly moving for me. In a philosophical sense, do you think there exists anything more temporary and unimportant as fame?

Youthfulness.

What are some other projects you have planned in your future, if any?

I am currently writing the third and final installment of my Holy Trilogy, entitled Pain in Translation. The book is slated for a spring 2017 release.

I also hope to publish a PDF-based academic text in 2018.

Lastly, please mention some ways we can support you.

Be emotionally generous to writers and artists that come from a different background. Honor the safety of women, and promote intersectionality — don’t let one type of woman tear another woman down. Offer platforms to writers and artists that do not have a lot of social capital. These things do not serve me exclusively, of course, but they are very important to me.

On a far more trivial level, you can help me buy groceries by purchasing one of my books here.

<3

Interview conducted by Jordan Hoxsie.

Directing You Down The Path To Clarity: An Interview with Caseyrenée Lopez

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Tell me a little bit about your new full-length collection. Are there any recurring images or themes that you feel run throughout? How does it compare to the composition of QueerSexWords?

My new full-length is an exploration of my evolving gender identity, and how I’m beginning to understand how my transness is different from my husband’s trans identity or anyone else’s really. I’ve started to realize how much of an impact it’s having on my sexuality, my relationships with other people, and how I see myself as a person. In constructing this collection, I became almost hyperaware of language, and find that more often than not, language fails us. I’m still working out the kinks and getting used to the way I see myself versus the way other people see me. It’s often hard for me because my writer self, my internal self, doesn’t match what people see as my outside self. My femme presentation offers me the security of passing privilege, but I hate it, I hate being read as a straight woman. It erases me and my work. This collection actively works to reject the notion that a femme passing person must be a woman—in working with these revelations about myself, the central theme of this collection is gender and sexuality, and although it does include a few poems from QueerSexWords, the overall feel is far less angry and much more exploratory. I decided that I’d spent enough time living in the past, mining those painful memories that make up the bulk of QueerSexWords, and instead, I spent the last 3 months writing and revising this new collection. It’s airy and new, a theme that mirrors where I’m at in my life right now—I’m very proud of this work, which isn’t something I say often.

What, in general, is your writing process like?

Writing comes to me in bursts. I write whenever I can, typically on my phone because I always have it with me. I don’t have a concrete process, but I do spend serious time on craft, revision, and language. I’m definitely not one of those poets who writes the first thing that comes to mind and says that it’s publishable (though, to the poets that can do this—I’m jealous because you make poetry seem effortless).

Are there any writers you can say have influenced the manner in which you write, or got you attached to writing as a whole? What writers have you grown to admire over the years?

Oh, there are so many writers that I encounter and love from the first line of a poem or story. However, early on, when I was a teenager, I read a lot of Anne Rice (and still do). While all of my friends were reading Twilight and Harry Potter I was reading The Vampire Chronicles and other folks like Whitley Strieber. I never really got into YA back then, with the exception of Christopher Pike, who writes some really terrifying stuff. These foundational writers really hooked me into reading and writing as an art form. I’ve since expanded into reading almost anything I can get my hands on. I’ve really gotten into auto/biographies and creative non-fiction or anything related to being queer. Right now there are so many working poets that I just adore, but I can’t possibly list them all, though two of the best chapbooks I’ve read in the last year have been Lisa Marie Basile’s war/lock and Fatimah Asghar’s After.

You work as an English teacher at Georgia Military College. Do you feel that there is a distinction between writing and teaching in terms of end results? And, while on the subject of education, do you find it necessary for aspiring writers to get the degrees for a proper introduction to the art form?

I definitely think that education and writing often go hand-in-hand, but are the two exclusive? Hell no. Writers tend to learn from other writers, so teaching is something that I do to make me happy. I love being able to direct my students down the path to clarity and beautiful language. But to say that to be a successful and engaging writer one needs the support of academia? No, no, no. Academia can provide structure to the people that need it, but it can also stifle other people. It offers guidelines and a foundation for starting out. It engages you with community and teaches you to use feedback and criticism, but it does not make you a good writer. Being a good writer is something that I think is inherent. I’m not sure you can teach talent. Can you help a not so good writer do better, absolutely, but can you teach a writer to become an artist? No.

What sparked the creation of Crab Fat Magazine? Is there a story behind the name?

Ahh, Crab Fat, my baby—when I started Crab Fat Magazine in 2014 I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. I only had one thing in mind when I did: make space for queer people. I spent about 2 months doing research and looking up literary magazines. I sought out venues that catered to the southeastern United States, and at the time I found nothing. I came across blogs and small pocket communities, but nothing that was dedicated to people like me. I tossed around ideas for the platform, the name of the journal, and other important aspects, and all the while I was drawing a blank. I knew I wanted the name of the journal to be cool and memorable, but at the time I was in a pretty dark place, depressed, and filled with dread about the outside world, so everything I thought of was bland, off-center, or been done. I was struggling to find the words to make this damn thing happen, I took suggestions that no one wanted to give, I looked up obscure words in the dictionary, and I read my favorite books hoping for something to jump out at me. Then in the beginning of June 2014, I remember sitting at Waffle House with Paul (my husband). It was really hot outside, the windows were covered in condensation, and the parking lot was visibly steaming. “I want to do this, but I can’t even think of a name for the project,” I complained. Paul thought for a few minutes, and started humming the tune of Crudbump’s “Illuminati Shit.” We’d spent the better part of six months hooked on that song; we loved the harsh beats, Angel Haze’s sick verse, and in particular, the weird ass lyrics: “I grab your rope with my crab hand, turn you around to see the crab man, square on my head, I wear my crab hat, rock a big gut that’s my crab fat.” All the while we’d been jokingly calling Paul’s belly “crab fat,” and then he suggested that be the title of the journal because it was cool and memorable and made me laugh. I immediately agreed, and after stuffing our faces with hash browns and scrambled eggs, went home and bought the domain www.crabfatmagazine.com (I wanted to buy crabfat.com, but it was taken as a parked, unused domain).

Do you have any upcoming projects?

Personally, no. I think I may’ve drained my personal creative reserves for a while after going so hard on my new collection, but I’m working everyday on new issues of Crab Fat and editing books for Damaged Goods Press—I cannot recommend Monstrosity by Ally Ang enough (we  just released it July 25th)! At the press we have almost an entire roster of work lined up for the year so I’m looking forward to keeping busy with all the details of getting some awesome books out into the world.

Where can we find more of your work and how else can we offer support?

Awww, thanks for asking! I recently had some poems published in Sea Foam Magazine and Thank You for Swallowing. Over the next few months, I have work coming out in Thank You for Swallowing (2 more pieces), Walking is Still Honest Press, Yes, Poetry, and Glass. I’m shopping my new collection around as well and I hope to have some bites within the next 6 months or so. My chap QueerSexWords is also available directly from me via PayPal, or Yellow Chair Press, and as an adjunct I can always use the extra dollars.

Interview conducted by Jordan Hoxsie.